It seems a perfect time for a Summer Update and a period of reflection as I look back over the last few months and see how my business has grown and changed over the years. This has meant changes with my planning and preparation for the forthcoming months. Traditionally the summer months have been a quieter time for me as a designer, so this has served me well in preparation for the forthcoming Autumn and Christmas season. Many years ago when I started to think about changing my business from a hobby to a more sustainable business, the majority of the work I was commissioned to undertake was in the retail sector. I always had time to design throughout the year but none more so than during the Summer months. I admit to finding it difficult to think of Christmas at this time of year, so most of my Christmas plans are made in January when my brain might feel inspired by something I have seen over the previous few months. However, as the business grew so did the corporate side of Susan Rose China as more and more businesses approached us for personalised china. This now ranges from mugs to corporate gifts such as a Christmas bauble. Some of the corporate grew out of the retail orders with customers who had seen my work “spreading the word” to others and so over the last few years the pattern has gradually changed. Now 80% of our business is corporate and only 20% retail. Most of the retail is for personalised orders with a few popular exceptions such as the bookwork mug. When we had our first order for 100 mugs, we celebrated. Now 100 mugs is a very manageable standard small order. The last few summer weeks have been particularly busy for me as a designer. Many of our corporate clients have approached us for new ideas as well as re-makes for their original Susan Rose pieces of china. Much of these orders are around my “Mug full of History” design which depicts the history of an organisation around the side of a mug. These designs can vary in the amount of design time taken to produce the flat art work. For example, I am delighted to be making a new Mug Full of History for the Royal Engineers, which is particularly intricate and so has taken me many hours to perfect the finished piece of art work. On the other hand, my naval mug for the Royal British Legion is more straightforward. In the last 4 weeks I have designed 6 new Mug of History designs. We have had 6 re-orders with existing clients. On the retail side there has been an influx of bespoke work. This is around one-off pieces, so for example drawing houses and wedding venues. To draw a house as a one-off piece for a specific pieces of china might take 4 or 5 hours in total which will include time at the computer. We are busy with Christmas baubles, dinner services and commemorative china for the Engineers and The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to name but a few. As a small business owner I am always multi-tasking, for example there is the social media to manage, make videos, trying to constantly engage with people to explain about our brand any why we believe in Stoke and the English bone china they produce in the handful of remaining factories is of such high quality. It might be more expensive to buy British rather than cheaper imported china, but we believe it is a better and more niche product.

So this Summer, August is already shaping up to be another busy month as our Armistice mug goes on sale for the Royal British Legion and more corporate orders come in from across the world. From a marketing perspective there are some fun days marked out for those who are engaging on social media such as World Book Lover’s Day or National Dog Day. All perfect for social media engagement for those who are interested in me as the personality behind my brand. As a member of the Council for the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce I spent time at one of their highly informative meetings and a few weeks prior to that I was involved with the Friends of The Scott Polar Annual Tribute Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society. All of these things are part of who I am and what we at Susan Rose China represent. Every week I spend time in Stoke working closely with my print maker Andy and his team and every week I spend in the factories watching, learning and understanding why Stoke has so much to offer. I am so proud to produce something truly British and hopefully those of you who buy a piece of our china will realise that every piece has a story to tell from the clay to our customers.
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